Hillary Clinton may be enjoying a comfortable lead in national polls, but she is far from enjoying a comfortable night’s sleep given the ever-widening maelstrom of scandals engulfing her presidential bid. And while Clinton delights in bloviating about a decades-long “vast, right wing conspiracy” against her, the fact is that it’s the Clinton political machine’s long and storied track record of criminality, duplicity, and corruption that haunts her like Lincoln’s ghost silently skulking through White House bedrooms.
The latest in a string of embarrassing scandals is centered on the powerful Clinton Foundation, and the obvious impropriety of its acceptance of large donations from foreign governments (and wealthy individuals connected to them), especially those governments universally recognized as oppressive dictatorships whose foreign policy orientation places them squarely in the US orbit.
Of particular note are the Gulf monarchies such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar whose massive donations belie the fact that their oppression of women runs contradictory to Clinton’s self-styled ‘feminism’ and belief “that the rights of women and girls is the unfinished business of the 21st Century.” Is collaborating with feudal monarchies whose subjugation of women is the stuff of infamy really Clinton’s idea of feminism? Or, is it rather that Clinton merely uses issues such as women’s rights as a dog whistle for loyal liberals while groveling before the high councilors of the imperial priesthood?
What the Clinton Foundation hullabaloo really demonstrates is that Clinton’s will to power is single-minded, entirely simpatico with the corruption of the military-industrial-financial-surveillance complex; that she is a handmaiden for, and member of, the ruling establishment; that Clinton represents the marriage of all the worst aspects of the political class. In short, Clinton is more than just corrupt, she is corruption personified.
Clinton’s Dirty Dealing and Even Dirtier Laundry
In a hilariously pig-headed, but rather telling, statement, former President Bill Clinton responded to allegations of impropriety with the Clinton Foundation by saying, “We’re trying to do good things… If there’s something wrong with creating jobs and saving lives, I don’t know what it is. The people who gave the money knew exactly what they were doing. I have nothing to say about it except that I’m really proud.”
Leaving aside the fact that such an arrogant comment demonstrates Bill Clinton’s complete contempt for ethics and the basic standards of proper conduct, the salient point is that the argument from the Clintons is that the foundation is inherently good, that it helps people around the world, and that, as such, it can’t possibly be corrupt and unethical. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire – except when it comes to the Clintons who stand proudly enveloped in billowing clouds of smoke swearing up and down that not only is there no fire, but anyone who mentions the existence of flames is both a sexist and Trump-loving Putin stooge.
But indeed there is a fire, and it is raging on the American political scene. And nowhere is the heat more palpable than in the deserts of the Middle East where wealthy benefactors write massive checks for access to America’s 21st Century Queen of Mean (apologies to Leona Helmsley).
Consider the 2011 sale of $29 billion worth of advanced fighter jets to Saudi Arabia, a gargantuan deal that made the feudal monarchy into an overnight air power. Were there any doubts as to the uses of the hardware, look no further than the humanitarian nightmare that is Yemen, a country under relentless air war carried out by the Saudis. And, lo and behold, the Saudis had been major contributors to the Clinton Foundation in the years leading up to the sale. And it should be equally unsurprising that just weeks before the deal was finalized, Boeing, the manufacturer of the F-15 jets that were the centerpiece of the massive arms deal, donated $900,000 to the Foundation.
Of course, according to Bubba and Hil, it’s all conspiracy theory to suggest that the Clinton Foundation is essentially a pay-for-play scheme in which large sums of money translate into access to the uppermost echelons of state power in the US. As the International Business Times noted:
The Saudi deal was one of dozens of arms sales approved by Hillary Clinton’s State Department that placed weapons in the hands of governments that had also donated money to the Clinton family philanthropic empire… Under Clinton’s leadership, the State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments have given money to the Clinton Foundation… That figure — derived from the three full fiscal years of Clinton’s term as Secretary of State (from October 2010 to September 2012) — represented nearly double the value of American arms sales made to the those countries and approved by the State Department during the same period of President George W. Bush’s second term.
The Clinton-led State Department also authorized $151 billion of separate Pentagon-brokered deals for 16 of the countries that donated to the Clinton Foundation, resulting in a 143 percent increase in completed sales to those nations over the same time frame during the Bush administration. These extra sales were part of a broad increase in American military exports that accompanied Obama’s arrival in the White House. The 143 percent increase in U.S. arms sales to Clinton Foundation donors compares to an 80 percent increase in such sales to all countries over the same time period.
Additionally, as Glenn Greenwald explained earlier this year,
The Saudi regime by itself has donated between $10 million and $25 million to the Clinton Foundation, with donations coming as late as 2014, as she prepared her presidential run. A group called “Friends of Saudi Arabia,” co-founded “by a Saudi Prince,” gave an additional amount between $1 million and $5 million. The Clinton Foundation says that between $1 million and $5 million was also donated by “the State of Qatar,” the United Arab Emirates, and the government of Brunei. “The State of Kuwait” has donated between $5 million and $10 million.
The sheer dollar amounts are staggering. Perhaps then it comes as no surprise just why nearly every single influential figure in the military-industrial-financial-surveillance complex – from General John Allen to death squad coordinator extraordinaire John Negroponte, from neocon tapeworms such as Max Boot, Robert Kagan, and Eliot Cohen to billionaire barbarocrats like the Koch Brothers, George Soros, and Warren Buffett – is backing Hillary Clinton. Not only is she good for Empire, she’s good for business. And ultimately, that’s what this is all about, isn’t it?
But of course, Hillary’s devotion to the oil oligarchs of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf goes much deeper than simply an exchange of money for weapons. In fact, Hillary is deeply committed to the Saudi royal family’s foreign policy outlook and tactics, in particular the weaponization of terrorism as a means of achieving strategic objectives.
Libya provides perhaps the paragon of Clintonian-Saudi strategy: regime change by terrorism. Using terror groups linked to Al Qaeda and backed by Saudi Arabia, Clinton’s State Department and the Obama Administration managed to topple the government of Muammar Gaddafi, thereby throwing the former “jewel of Africa” into turmoil and political, economic, and social devastation. To be fair, it was not the Saudis alone involved in fomenting war in Libya, as Hillary’s brothers-from-other-mothers in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates were also directly involved in sowing the seeds of the current chaos in the country.
And of course, this strategic partnership between Clinton and the Gangsters of the Gulf extends far beyond Libya. In Syria, Clinton’s stated policies of regime change and war are aligned with those of Riyadh, Doha, and Abu Dhabi. And, of course, it was during Clinton’s tenure at the State Department that US intelligence was involved in funneling weapons and fighters into Syria in hopes of doing to Syria what had already been done to Libya.
Huma Abedin: Clinton’s Woman in Riyadh
Just in case all the political and financial ties between Clinton and the Gulf monarchies wasn’t enough to make people stop being #WithHer, perhaps the role of her closest adviser might do the trick. Huma Abedin, Clinton’s campaign chief of staff, has long-standing ties to Saudi Arabia, the country where Huma spent her childhood from the age of two. As a Vanity Fair exposé revealed earlier this year:
When Abedin was two years old, the family moved to Jidda, Saudi Arabia, where, with the backing of Abdullah Omar Nasseef, then the president of King Abdulaziz University, her father founded the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs, a think tank, and became the first editor of its Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs… After [Abedin’s father] Syed died, in 1993, his wife succeeded him as director of the institute and editor of the Journal, positions she still holds… Abdullah Omar Nasseef, the man who set up the Abedins in Jidda… is a high-ranking insider in the Saudi government and sits on the king’s Shura Council, there are claims that Nasseef once had ties to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda—a charge that he has denied through a spokesman—and that he remains a “major” figure in the Muslim Brotherhood. In his early years as the patron of the Abedins’ journal, Nasseef was the secretary-general of the Muslim World League, which Andrew McCarthy, the former assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted the “Blind Sheik,” Omar Abdel Rahman, in the wake of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, claims “has long been the Muslim Brotherhood’s principal vehicle for the international propagation of Islamic supremacist ideology.”
Consider the implications of this information: Clinton’s closest adviser comes from a family connected at the highest levels with the Saudi royal family as well as the Muslim Brotherhood. While right wing pundits portray the Muslim Brotherhood as some sort of straightforward international terror organization, the reality is much more complex as the Brotherhood is more an international political movement whose tentacles stretch into nearly every corner of the Muslim world. Its vast reserves of cash and political influence, backed by Gulf monarchies such as Qatar, allows the Brotherhood to peddle influence throughout the West, while also being connected to more radical salafist elements. An obvious two-for-one for Clinton.
In effect then, Abedin represents a bridge connecting Hillary with both the ruling elites in Riyadh, as well as influential clerics, businesspeople, and political leaders throughout the Middle East. Perhaps then it makes sense why Abedin, in contravention of every standard of ethics, was employed by Teneo Holdings – a pro-Clinton consultancy founded by former Clinton aide Doug Band – while also working for the State Department. Such ethical violations are as instinctive for Hillary as breathing, or calling children superpredators.
Trump, Assange, Putin, and Clinton’s Sleight of Hand
Despite being embroiled in multiple scandals, any one of which being enough to sink the campaign of most other candidates, Clinton and her army of fawning corporate media sycophants, have attempted to deflect attention away from her own misdeeds, corruption, and nefarious ties by instead portraying everyone who opposes them as puppets, stooges, and useful idiots.
Let’s begin with Republican nominee and gasbag deluxe, Donald Trump, who Clinton trolls have attempted to portray as a stooge of Russian President Putin. While it’s indeed quite likely that the Kremlin sees Trump as far less of a threat to Russia’s interests than Clinton – just look at Clinton’s roster of neocon psychopath supporters to see that Putin has a point – the notion that Trump is somehow a creation of Putin, or at the very least is working for him is utterly absurd.
And the “evidence”? Trump’s connections with wealthy Russian oligarchs. I suppose those who have made their homes under rocks these last 25 years might not know this, but nearly every billionaire investor has gone to Russia in that time, forged ties with influential Russians, and attempted to make money by stripping clean the bones of what was once the Soviet Union. Sorry Naomi Klein, I guess the Clintonistas expect no one to have read Shock Doctrine which details the sort of disaster capitalism run amok that took place in Russia in the 1990s.
And then, of course, there’s that great confabulator Julian Assange who has also been smeared as a Putin puppet by the #ImWithHer media somnambulists. I guess the lords of corporate capital didn’t like the fact that Assange and WikiLeaks have managed to expose countless dirty deeds by Clinton’s Tammany Hall of the 21stCentury. From using the DNC as a political appendage of the Clinton campaign (as revealed by the WikiLeaks dump of DNC emails) to his recent promise to make public the “most interesting and serious” dirt on Hillary, Assange has become a thorn in the side – or thumb in the eye, as it were – for Hillary.
And what would a rundown of the specters haunting Clinton’s dreams be without mention of the rabid bear of Russia, big bad Vlad? Clinton recently referred to Putin as the “grand godfather of this global brand of extreme nationalism.” Leaving aside the asinine phraseology, Clinton’s attacks on Putin reveal the weakness of the Democratic nominee, the hollowness of her arguments, and the unmitigated gall of a hypocrite for whom casting stones in glass houses is second nature.
For, at the very moment that she takes rhetorical swipes at Putin, Clinton herself is implicated in a worldwide network of extremism that promotes terrorism, rains death and destruction on millions of innocent civilians, and moves the world closer to global conflict. If Putin represents the éminence grise of a “global brand of extreme nationalism,” then Clinton is the fairy godmother of global extremism and terror. It’s a good thing she has access to the best personal grooming products Goldman Sachs money can buy as it is not easy to wash decades-worth of blood off your hands.
And so, the quadrennial danse macabre that is the US presidential election has turned into an embarrassing sideshow of dull-witted infantilism. But amid the idiocy there is wanton criminality and corruption to be exposed before the world. For while Trump is undoubtedly the bearded lady of America’s freak show, Hillary is the carnival barker.
She knows the ring toss and other games are rigged, but she coaxes the feeble-minded to play nonetheless. She knows the carnies are drunk and reckless, but she urges the children to pay for another ride anyway. She understands that her job is to sell a rigged game, and to call security when someone challenges her lies. And, unfortunately, whether you want it or not, the Hillary Roadshow is coming to a town, or country, near you.
Saudi Arabia on the American chessboard – Part 4
Read part 3: How the occupied mentality syndrome works
Uncovering the extent and details of Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the U.S. wars against selected Arab and non-Arab states is somewhat complicated, and the reason is shortage of reliable information. Even if such information were available, we may have to sieve through a huge amount of data searching for patterns, relations, and critical values. For instance, how to search for the methods the U.S. employs to enforce Saudi involvement in its plans and polices? What drives the Arab and regional policy (and wars) of the Saudi regime?
Suppose we search for the true reasons behind Iraq’s invasion of Iran in 1980. Can we extrapolate data to prove that the United States and Saudi Arabia were the godfathers for a war that lasted over eight years and killed over one million Iranians and Iraqis? Why did Iraq not invade Iran when the Shah was in power given that its basic problems with Iran were, more or less, the same? Was the “secret” meeting between Carter’s National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski and the Iraqi president Saddam Hussein around June 1980 a prelude to that war? Did the U.S.-Saudi-Iraqi plan to attack Iran materialize during the meeting between the Iraqi president, King Fahad, and the American Ambassador to Saudi Arabia in Jeddah, July 1980? Can we read the past in present terms to see what the U.S.-Saudi plans of the 1980s have done to the region in the successive 35 years?
We can answer these and other related questions by mixing facts with speculations. But to answer them rationally thus removing residual doubts on intents and plans, we need more than just incisive analysis. Specifically, we need to venture into the world of hypotheses when stubborn analytical situations require it. Yet, could a hypothesis answer the question whether Iran-Iraq war confirms U.S. plans for Iraq, other Arab states, the Palestinian Issue, and Iran? To be skeptic, where is the evidence that the United States had indeed prepared plans for Iran and the region after the collapse of the Shah’s regime?
In addition, seeing that the U.S. took no military actions against Iran (not even after the hostage crisis and subsequent failed military mission to liberate them), is our supposition of planning to undermine the newly established Islamic regime credible? In the same vein, can another hypothesis address the issue whether Al Saud pushed for and financed that war following an American script or in response to their own objectives? Again, where is the evidence?
When concrete situations are the subject of inquiry, hypotheses have narrow limits on what they can achieve. Generally, hypotheses are limited by own premises and type of background information. To debate this point, we may be able to construct hypothetical models to explain solar eruptions, but cannot depend on hypotheses to explain entities born out of deliberation such as wars. Regardless of purpose, war is a result of calculation and decision-making. Being so, rigorous, repeated examination is the valid way to probe its motives.
Take, for example, U.S. wars in Korea and Vietnam. It does not take hard work to establish a basic truth. These two wars had solid basis in the ideology, philosophy, and economy of American militarism and imperialism. Based on this sturdy fact, would we still need conjectural models to explain their origins? Informed students of the history of imperialism could answer as follows. If we start by negating the American pretexts to contain Communism and so-called Soviet expansionism, all rationales the United States used to prop these wars would fall by their own inertia and lurid justifications. To close, explaining international issues should never depend on hypothetical constructs leading to nowhere.
If hypotheses were of unsure validity, would analytical models work better?
Certainly, but such models are not guaranteed either. Questions on source validity and potential interference would cancel reached conclusions. Furthermore, political analytical models could be deceptive in that they are language- not fact-based; what is worse, they could be infected by predetermined ideology. In such case, both argument and conclusion are inconsequential. In addition, analysis based on deficient, insufficient, or manipulated data is of no use. More important, the identity of the analists can be the decisive factor to accept or reject a given statement or analysis. Would informed people accept an Israeli thesis as to why Zionists feel they have “historical rights” to Palestine? Equally, would informed minds accept Barack Obama’s rationalization as to why the United States bombed Libya and killed its leader Muammar al-Qaddafi? In these two examples, deceptive theses generate misleading results.
In order to make a rational assessment of issues, we need dedicated tools and supportive evidence. Granted that such tools are indispensable to conduct a comprehensive examination of a subject, what about evidence? Can presumed evidence vouch for the correctness of an analysis? That is, what happens when the result of a planned analysis is pre-established by design? Conversely, what happens when a new analysis denies earlier evidence? Here is another problem: if analysis were the logical way to go forward, what if it reaches an impasse and stops there because some elements needed for the conclusion are either unavailable or disputable to begin with?
Yet, can anyone tell us what does evidence mean? Is it material thus concrete, tangible thus acceptable, allusive thus negligible, or fake thus disposable? Curiously, how useful evidence is if the methodology used to produce it is controversial? Because the argument on verification is practically endless, then we have to establish congruency thresholds. Meaning, to avoid being stuck in our search for the optimal level of verification, we have to decide the point in which we either accept or discard an analysis.
Now, if manipulation could fool some, what to make of the conduct of world governments when confronted with U.S. lies? Who would forget when Colin Powell presented— with gelid calmness and unflinching assuredness—his faked evidence to the United Nations (February 2003) to prove Iraq’s possession of WMD? Why did these governments remain silent in front of Powell’s patent lies and deception? Where did logical skepticism go? Or, maybe defying the empire of lies was out of question?
In the quest to find persuasive arguments, and when objective evidence does not find its way to the writing process, some opponents of imperialism (and wars) skip elementary verification altogether and rely on their version of it. As a result, dangling impressions keep flowing uninterrupted as if they were analysis onto themselves. In such cases, complacent assumptions supplant evidence.
The argument I just made leads me to address my own analysis of the occupied mentality syndrome with the following question. What methods must I adopt to support my narratives about Saudi Arabia’s actions and policies and relate them to the policy of the U.S. ruling circles? Inquisitively, must committed writers back up with material facts everything they say, observe, or analyze? Would strong inferences and reason-based deductions suffice?
To recap, no doubt that we need an organizational framework, but we also need tools to probe what these sources say and in what context. Consider this: is it rational or politically acceptable to examine the U.S. Arab policy without considering first the Jewish Zionist forces that move the United States? Since the logical answer should be no, then how to decide on the quality, depth, and accuracy of the debating materials?
For instance, to what extent did Western writers try to investigate the reasons behind the persistent American hostility toward Iran—specifically since the Islamic Revolution of Khomeini? Well, it should not be surprising to know that said hostility has nothing to do with the Islamic Revolution itself. Not only that, but it has nothing to do with Iran’s new theocratic order. . . . America’s anti-Iran enmity has nothing to do with the hostage crisis. And it has nothing to do with democracy—because the U.S. never resented Iran when it was under the Shah’s dictatorship. And above all, it has nothing to do with the Israeli propaganda claiming that former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatened to annihilate Israel. In the end, it has nothing to do with Iran’s nuclear program.
A cogent explanation for the U.S. hostility toward Iran can be found in the broken rules of imperialist domination, which is Iran’s exit from the orbit of U.S. hegemony. Said differently, the Khomeini Revolution had accomplished something extraordinary: it ended the American control of Iran via Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Thus, after over 60 years of Western interference (from the end of WWI to the Islamic Revolution), Iran had become a truly independent state. Based on this argument, do we still need to prove that a true independence of nation-states is anathema to U.S. Zionists and imperialists?
Iran’s exit from the orbit of U.S. hegemony is the cogent explanation for the U.S. hostility toward Iran.
To sum it up, it is not a play of words to state that what we know about the history of American-Saudi relation pales in comparison with what we do not know. No one should expect, therefore, that the clandestine deals and scheming between U.S. ruling circles and the Al Saud regime are going to be available anytime soon. Nevertheless, because we do not want our question on the U.S.-Saudi relation to end up like the “endless quest” to uncover who was behind the assassination of John Kennedy, we need to find alternative ways to expose how this relation works and what it means for the Arab nations and the world.
For starters, the multilayered interaction between the United States and Saudi Arabia amounts to a closed system. It is a closed system because many of its sub-systems have pertinent identity, lexicon, operational controls, and rationales—all moving like clockwork. By dint of this assertion, our task is to find out how to open this system up and expose its working mechanism.
American Scientist and psychologist John Henry Holland provided me with the clue on how to deal with the issue of verifying events and relative meanings. In debating of what he called “complex adaptive systems” or “cas”, Holland proposed a framework to transform “Intuitions into deep understanding”. He writes,
“Theory is crucial. Without theory, we make endless forays into uncharted badlands. With theory, we can separate fundamental characteristics from fascinating idiosyncrasies and incidental features. Theory supplies landmarks and guideposts, and we begin to know what to observe and where to act. . . . Many cas have the property that a small input can produce major predictable, directed changes—an amplified effect. . . . The task of formulating theory for cas is more than usually difficult because the behavior of a whole cas is more than a simple sum of the behavior of the parts; cas abound in nonlinearities. Nonlinearities mean that our most useful tools for generalizing observations into theory, and so on—are badly blunted. The best way to compensate for this loss is to make cross-disciplinary comparisons of cas, in hopes for extracting characteristics. With patience and insight we can shape those characteristics into building blocks for a general theory.” 
Holland’s method [Theory] to understand the hidden order of systems is invaluable tool. However, can we use it to uncover the basics, foundation, and structure of the U.S.-Saudi relation? Here is the barrier: even if we construct a general theory of such relation, some problems would remain unsolved. For instance, per se, theories do not encapsulate clues for how to provide proof. Instead, they prepare the ground to dig out a reasoned validation based on methodical analytical processes and dialectical examination of provided premises.
Writing on my MySCR chemistry blog, Ian Miller asks,
“Can you prove a theory to be true?” He answered, “Many/most scientists would probably say, no, you cannot; all you can do is to falsify a theory, while you believe a theory to be true because all evidence supports it.” This raises the problem, what happens when the evidence that contradicts the theory are suppressed? 
Miller debated the issue of falsifying theories in scientific settings. The same thing could happen though in non-scientific environments. Miller did mention the intent behind falsification. But such intent hides an agenda whereby the falsifier hope to achieve a favorable outcome. The keyword is the political decision to suppress evidence thus allowing that outcome to happen. In the history of Western imperialism, suppressing unfavorable evidence is the norm. To limit ourselves to the U.S. wars and interventions, suppressing evidence, manufacturing evidence, inventing pretexts, and theatrical stunts to present them go hand in hand. President James Polk’s war on Mexico in 1846; Lyndon Johnson’s deception to turn the Gulf of the Tonkin incident into war against North Vietnam; and Clinton-Gore’s manipulation of the Kosovo affair to bomb Serbia (1998) are examples.
Does that mean when supportive evidence is unavailable or missing, we cannot buttress verified events with the tool of reasoning?
Take the studies of economics as applied to capitalism. Where can we find uncontested evidence supporting the theory of value? Yet no theories on value from Adam Smith to Milton Friedman and others could compete with Marx’s surplus-value theory (taken from David Ricardo who took it from others). Marx persuasively corroborated his theory with logic, calculations, and common sense. With that, seeing the ongoing destructive effects brought up by insolvencies of financial institutions, by corporate bankruptcies, and by the ritualistic collapse of stock markets, where are the pundits who have been insisting that Marx’s theory on the cyclic crises of capitalism is erroneous?
Political analyses are invariably cause-centered. That is, the analyst writes to support his cause. Because of that, such analyses are also ideologically motivated. However, what is important for us here is to find the correct balance between ironclad political evidence and logically extracted evidence.
Miller offers a good lead in this sense. In the post just cited, he writes,
An observation can be used to prove a scientific statement, provided you can write it in the form: “If, and only if, theory X is true, then you will observe Y”. The observation of Y proves theory X is true, as stated. Of course it may be incomplete, but it will be true as far as it goes. The problem is to justify the”only if” part of the statement, because how can you know that there is not an alternative that has not been thought of yet.  [Italics are mine]
So, to overcome difficulties arising from the verification process, I propose, therefore, a dialectical remedy. Because we are not dealing with a scientific theory requiring repeated tests, we could use Miller’s models to make them work for us. This is how we can do it. We can form a solid theory of the U.S.-Saudi relation and its hidden order by combining facts and a large battery of deductive reasoning. With this approach, we can turn analogical evidence and prima facie evidence into primary evidence by reasoned equivalency.
Having established the method to examine the U.S.-Saudi relation, I shall discuss next Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the U.S. plans for the Arab states and the Middle East. My starting point is Iraq’s war against Iran (1980). Considering Iraq’s modest military power (by international standards) prior to the Islamic Revolution, it is imperative to pose the following question: could that war have lasted over eight years without Saudi and Kuwaiti financial backing? In particular, how can we read Iraq’s war in the context of the Saudi regime’s relation with the United States? Why did the United States extend credits to Iraq, sell it advanced weapons, and allow it to import American chemical weapons technology? Why did the U.S.—the most terrorist state in history—list Iraq as a “state sponsor of terrorism in 1979, remove the tag in 1982, and then list Iran as such as state in 1984? Why did U.S. vassals such as Jordan and Egypt provide logistical and intelligence support to Iraq? What was the purpose of giving military intelligence to Iraq?
Next: Part 5
- John H. Holland, Hidden Order: How Adaptation Builds Complexity, Perseus Books, 1995, p. 4, 5, 6
- Ian Miller, Can you prove a theory to be true? 18 March, 2013
B. J. Sabri is an Iraqi American analyst of the history, politics, policies, militarism, driving forces, ideological structures, attitudes, terrorism, and wars of contemporary US and European imperialisms, and their interaction with Israel and Zionism. He has been writing articles and multi-part essays for internet readers since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.
As recently acknowledged by The Washington Post, US Special Forces are directly involved in military operations in Libya, «coordinating American airstrikes and providing intelligence information» to local forces battling the Islamic State (IS) for Sirte, 450 kilometres to the east of Tripoli.
British special forces have also been active in Libya for several months, providing direct military support to brigades from Misurata (Libya’s third largest city situated in the northwest of the country), which are also attacking Sirte. Paradoxically, the British and Americans are supporting irreconcilable enemies in the Libyan conflict as allies.
France is also involved in the intervention in Libya. On 26 July, in Libya a helicopter containing three French soldiers was shot down. French special forces are supporting the forces of General Khalifa Haftar, commander of the armed forces of the Libyan Parliament (the House of Representatives) located in Tobruk in the west of the country. The French soldiers were killed by militants from the Benghazi Defence Brigades – an armed group formed by radicals from Misurata. The group is led by Ismail al-Sallabi, the brother of Libyan Muslim Brotherhood leader Ali al-Sallabi. Its aim is to prevent General Khalifa Haftar gaining control of Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city, and the oil fields in Cyrenaica.
It has to be said that the battle between the militants from Misurata and the Islamic State is rather conditional in nature. The Islamic State in Libya is an experiment by the Qatari intelligence agencies, and an unsuccessful one at that. Unlike Syria and Iraq, there are no prerequisites for the expansion of the Islamic State in Libya. In Iraq, the emergence of the IS was largely due to the Sunni-Shi’ite conflict, which does not exist in Libya. In addition, the ideology of the Islamic State involves the unification of Islamists regardless of tribal affiliation. This is possible in Syria and Iraq, but is out of the question in Libya, where the tribal factor determines the structure of society. Realising that its experiment had failed, Qatar began strengthening the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood with the Misurata tribe and the fighting in Sirte is an attempt to use one group of Islamists to remove another.
After learning of the downed French helicopter, Fayez al-Sarraj, the prime minister of Libya’s national unity government, which has little real power over the country, condemned the actions of Paris, calling them an intervention. It is interesting, however, that al-Sarraj’s government is taking a completely different line with regard to America’s intervention in Libya, which does not just consist of special forces operations, but also the bombing of IS positions by US F-16 fighter jets. In an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on 9 August, the Libyan prime minister said that there are no US ground troops in Libya, only the US Air Force, which is carrying out surgical strikes on terrorist targets. In doing so, Fayez al-Sarraj deliberately misled the reading public just as Mustafa Abdul Jalil, chairman of the National Transitional Council that overthrew the Gaddafi government, misled the public in the summer of 2011. Nobody mentions Abdul Jalil today, he has disappeared from the radar screens. Will the political biography of al-Sarraj, whose government has become a fig leaf covering up Western intervention, turn out to be just as short? Especially as his government is not the only one in Libya. Besides the National Unity Government, there is also the previously-mentioned House of Representatives in Tobruk, which is based on an elected parliament, and a government in Tripoli. However, these two governments together control only a small part of the country. As well as these, there are hundreds of armed groups that, strictly speaking, are the real masters of the situation.
The National Unity Government (a name that actually sounds comical given the current situation in Libya) was formed under the mediation of the UN and the West and from April to July this year was even too afraid to appear in Tripoli, its headquarters located at the Bu Sitta naval base on an island not far from the Libyan capital (similar to the ‘Green Zone’ in Baghdad set up by US occupying forces). One of the first steps taken by the new government was to begin talks on the merger of two oil companies operating independently of each other in Tripolitania and Cyrenaica. Upon hearing this, the ears of al-Sarraj’s Western sponsors pricked up, since their first and primary interest is Libyan oil. As a consequence, fighting for the control of territory is mostly taking place in Sirte and Ajdabiya, where Libya’s main oil terminals are located. The second interest of those involved in NATO’s Libyan intervention is to safeguard Europe’s southern flank from Libya’s coastline, which stretches for 1800 kilometres.
NATO justified its first Libyan intervention in 2011 with concerns for the establishment of democracy in the country following the overthrow of Gaddafi’s «tyrannical regime». This time, the intervention is being justified by the need to combat Islamic extremism. Something has changed in the five years between 2011 and 2016, however: while the anti-Gaddafi opposition held meeting after meeting in Benghazi in 2011 calling for NATO troops to be deployed in the country, now, after the French helicopter was shot down, meetings are being held in Libya against Western intervention.
Over the past five years, Libyans have learned a lot from their bitter experience: they have realised that ‘help’ from the West in establishing ‘democracy’ and in the ‘fight against extremism’ brings nothing but destruction, death and the displacement of those still alive. Today, three million Libyans, which is half of the country’s population, are forced to live outside of their homeland.
The UK’s most popular mid-market daily, The Daily Mail, has long tried to straddle the line between serious political content and crowd-pleasing tabloid fodder. Sadly, in recent times quite a lot of its Russia coverage has been falling into the second category.
This is particularly true when it comes to using Vladimir Putin’s name to generate internet traffic, with click-bait pieces focused on the Russian President. Indeed, no less than 18 articles graced their special “Putin” section in the first 20 days of August alone.
While most of this constant innuendo is harmless enough, recently things reached a new low. With the headline “Is Trump a Russian agent? Top Kremlinologist presents a tantalizing and disturbing dossier on why the presidential hopeful could have closer links to the Kremlin than it may appear,” the Mail gave ample space to a lobbyist for US defense contractors to publish a factually challenged, and heavily biased, essay on Russia.
The entities that sponsor the author’s activities include Bell Helicopters, Lockheed Martin, the Raytheon Company, and Sikorsky Aircraft. In other words, precisely the same people who benefit the most from renewed tensions between Russia and the West. This support is neatly dressed up in a pseudo-academic sounding enterprise called CEPA (Centre of European Policy Analysis). But don’t be fooled – CEPA is no different from any other lobbying vehicle.
Think Tank Not Thinking
At no point did the Mail explain Edward Lucas’ connections to the armament manufacturers, instead describing him as a “senior editor at the Economist,” which is true, but only half of the story, and very little of it when it comes to Russia. Lucas, together with his fellow lobbyists at CEPA, which include Peter Pomerantsev and Anne Applebaum (who also moonlights as a columnist at the Washington Post), is an experienced activist, who knows how to play to the gallery.
The column itself is extraordinary in its mendacity and inaccuracy, and it is worth highlighting a few examples.
Assailing US Presidential candidate Donald Trump, who is nominally the subject of the diatribe, Lucas seems upset that not only is Trump “friendly to Russia, he is also bitterly critical of American leaders.” Given that the businessman is a presidential nominee of the party that’s been shut out of the White House for the last eight years, it would be somewhat bizarre, in a healthy democracy, if he were not disapproving of what is essentially his opposition.
Next, the writer states that “for years, Russia has cultivated connections in Washington in the hope of gaining political knowledge and leverage.” This is exactly what the US and UK do all over the world, including in Russia. “The Russian government and Kremlin-friendly bodies hire lobbyists, donate money to think tanks, and promote politically influential commercial ties,” he goes on. This is, in fact, the rather logical foundation of foreign relations by all countries.
The Menace of Hypocrisy
Now, to indulge the absurd irony here, this could easily be re-written, so let’s have a go. “For years, America has cultivated connections in Europe in the hope of gaining political knowledge and leverage. The US government and Pentagon-dependent defense contractors hire lobbyists, donate money to think tanks and promote politically influential commercial ties on a scale many times bigger than Russia can afford. For example, in Warsaw, where Lucas himself is employed as a lobbyist by CEPA, which is funded by the State Department and US defense contractors.”
Indeed, in a recent opinion piece in The Nation, American journalist William Greider explained this process. “Why should we care who owns Ukraine? The answer may shock some innocent Americans. It’s about gaining a larger market for the US military-industrial complex. That is, recruiting more customers for the planes and other war-fighting equipment manufactured by US companies,” he wrote.
“After all, that was the real reason for NATO expansion after the Cold War ended. Contrary to its assurances, Washington pushed hard to expand NATO membership eastward, right up to the Russia border. Former Soviet satellites were happy to join, though this was sure to be understood by struggling Russia as a hostile act. Putin’s aggressive posture was his response.
“The true winners were Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and other major arms makers. I know this because as a reporter I attended Washington issue forums where the US companies and their congressional lackeys laid out the arguments for expanding NATO. There was no plausible threat at the time to justify it; Russians were suffering through their horrendous post-Cold War depression,” Greider continued in a rather enlightening piece.
All The World’s a Kremlin
Lucas also makes a rather astonishing association with respect to Trump’s relatively insignificant business interests in Russia (especially when compared to Clinton’s) to ask “is Donald Trump a Russian agent?” This is never properly answered, and instead a hilariously meek “the answer may be no” is offered, followed by this nonsensical explanation: “Trump, say former intelligence officials, is just the sort of ‘asset’ the Kremlin’s spy services would cultivate.” This supposed Russia specialist finds it absolutely plausible that Russian special services might be keen on recruiting flamboyant celebrities known for having loose tongues.
What’s the tell-tale sign of Trump’s sinister ties to Russia? Apparently, “in 2013, he brought the Miss Universe content to Moscow.” Reality check: Trump controlled the pageant for 19 years and in that time the event was held in 18 other places: Panama, Ecuador, Thailand, Mexico, Vietnam, Bahamas, Brazil, Russia, Cyprus, Trinidad, Puerto Rico (twice), and eight times in the USA. Perhaps Trump is so good at multitasking that he is moonlighting as a secret agent for all of these countries at once.
Throughout the lengthy essay, no mention is made of Trump’s warnings that America may have to start shooting down Russian jets, or the Clinton Foundation’s well-documented connections with Russia, because its purpose is not to inform or educate – it’s to whip up fears that bolster the agenda of the author’s patrons, which is selling weaponry.
The Daily Mail describes the writer as a “top Kremlinologist,” which just serves to emphasize that cold-warriors like Lucas cannot leave the past behind. “Kremlinology” was necessary in the Soviet era when government was conducted behind closed doors and seating positions at official events offered clues to political machinations. In the 21st century, if you want to figure out what Russian leaders are thinking, you can read their speeches and essays online.
You’d imagine that the American defense industry could find lobbyists who are capable of reading the Kremlin’s website. This thrift shop John Le Carre stuff is far too old fashioned these days.
Interviewed by Ukrainian radio station Radio EC-Evropeiska Stantsiya on the eve of his departure earlier this week, the ambassador, who played a critical support role in the EuroMaidan riots which culminated in the February 2014 coup d’etat in Kiev, explained that Russia’s ostensible obligations under the Minsk agreements were in no way connected to European officials’ decision to prolong anti-Russian sanctions. Accordingly, Tombinski noted, the sanctions can be extended whether Russia ‘complies with its obligations’ or not.
The diplomat did not reveal what exactly those “obligations” might be, given that Moscow is not even a direct party to the conflict, but a mediator. Instead, he suggested that the sanctions were connected with Russia’s “aggression” against Ukraine and the “annexation” of Crimea, whose population voted overwhelmingly to break off from Kiev and rejoin Russia amid the instability that followed the 2014 coup.
Tombinski’s remarks, essentially revealing that EU sanctions against Russia might remain in place indefinitely, come at an unfortunate time for German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
A day prior to his comments, Merkel reiterated to Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka the oft-used mantra that the EU’s sanctions were directly connected to Moscow living up to its commitments under Minsk.
Commenting on the apparent inconsistency between the talking points used by Brussels and Berlin, Azhdar Kurtov, a senior expert at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, told the Svobodnaya Pressa online paper that this not the first time Western leaders have effectively lied to Moscow about sanctions being connected to concrete actions.
In fact, he suggested, it’s become somewhat of a tradition.
“It’s worth recalling that during the Soviet period, there was a legislative amendment created by US congressmen which limited US trade with our country.” Called the Jackson-Vanik Amendment and in 1974, “it was approved in connection with alleged Soviet violations of the rights of citizens of Jewish nationality.”
“This piece of legislation remained in force several decades after the legal basis itself disappeared,” (and long after the Soviet Union itself ceased to exist). That law, Kurtov suggested, was never really connected to the persecution of Soviet Jews in the first place.
Now, the situation surrounding the modern-day anti-Russian sanctions is much the same, the expert suggested. “We’re seeing the same thing today. There is the formal aspect, linked to the fact that Russia is always being urged to ‘fulfill its obligations’, even though it is not even a subject to the Minsk agreements. But that’s not the main issue: even sticking to formalities, it’s necessary to read the text of these agreements. And that’s something no one wants to do, apparently.”
Kurtov pointed out that simply going back and reading the Minsk peace deal’s 13 points confirms that neither Moscow nor the self-declared Donbass republics are responsible for violating the agreement.
“These violations don’t exist because Minsk provides a coherent chain of actions [which must be fulfilled in order]. And this chain was broken – in the sense that it’s points were not carried out, not by the Donetsk or Lugansk republics, but by Kiev authorities. Therefore, even formally, there are simply no grounds for blaming Russia.”
In reality, the expert said, Western countries’ sanctions policy against Russia has never been about things like the alleged violation of human rights or failure to live up to some agreement. After all, Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s decision to fire into the Russian parliament in 1993 was, “from the perspective of refined Western democracy, a clear violation, for which sanctions could have followed, but they didn’t.This indicates that some other issues are at stake.”
“In my opinion, these circumstances are obvious: Russia has begun to consistently pursue an independent policy.”
Throughout the 1990s, Kurtov recalled, Russia held a pro-American line in international relations, and eagerly listened to Western advisors’ advice on reforming the economy, which virtually collapsed as a result. The country’s armed forces were degraded, the latest weapons systems systematically destroyed, and Moscow withdrew from the areas around the world traditionally considered part of its sphere of influence.
“Now, when we have begun consistently and firmly asserting our national interests, and have even come to serve as a kind of ‘guide’ to other countries wishing to do the same, the main blow [from the West] has been directed against us. Sanctions serve as one form of this kind of pressure. And so an excuse was invented – and more precisely, not invented but artificially constructed. After all, the coup in Kiev took place with the direct involvement of the West.”
Effectively, Kurtov suggested that the Ukrainian crisis beginning in 2014 “was just an excuse used to try to stop a trend that started in the early 2000s – the trend of Russia strengthening itself as an active player in global geopolitics.”
Of course, the analyst admitted that Western sanctions are harmful to Russia, insofar as they limit bilateral contacts, and damage economic and trade relations. On the other hand, Kurtov emphasized that Russia “must not allow the sanctions to string us along. It’s not necessary to fulfill their requirements, since new requirements will always appear in their place so long as their reasons are contrived and artificially constructed.”
Ultimately, the expert suggested that whatever else happens, Russia must push for cooperation on an equal basis, must strive “to make it so that the Russian position is properly understood not only by the political elites of other countries, but also by their people.”
For his part, Sergei Kalmykov, the deputy director of the Association of Military Diplomats, generally agreed with Kurtov’s assessment, suggesting that unfortunately, Washington “has always regarded Russia as a strategic adversary.”
“This has been the case not just for decades, but for over a century. It’s worth recalling that as soon as the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which continued to function for an unjustifiably long period, was repealed [in late 2012], it was immediately replaced by the so-called Magnitsky Act. Now, the Magnitsky Act has faded into the background, because the ‘Crimean issue’ and the whole situation around Ukraine has taken its place.”
“What we’re seeing is a pure political con game – a con game which simply involves the juggling of a variety of motives and terminology, but which only has one goal: to prevent Russia from emerging as a leader in global geopolitics. And today the West is using any excuse to try to carry out this policy,” Kalmykov concluded.
It was about two years ago to the day I was blacklisted at CNN.
I don’t want to remind them they were sadly wrong, but they were. So write this off however you prefer, but understand that we were lied to again to drag us again into an open-ended war in Iraq-Syria. Last time it was Bush and those missing Weapons of Mass Destruction. This time it was Obama and saving the Yazidi people from genocide.
Wait, what? Who are the Yazidis? How did they get us back into Iraq?
Ah, how fast time flies.
Two years ago a group of Yazidis, a minority spread across Iran, Iraq and Turkey, were being threatened by a group called ISIS few American were focused on. Obama declared a genocide was about to happen, and the U.S. had to act. U.S. officials said they believed that some type of ground force would be necessary to secure the safety of the stranded members of the Yazidi group. The military drew up plans for limited airstrikes and the deployment of 150 ground troops.
No Congressional authorization was sought, no attempt was made to secure UN sanction, no effort was made to seek Iraqi military help to save their own people inside their own country. However, promises were made by the White House of having no American “boots on the ground” and that the airstrikes to kill people were for a humanitarian purpose.
Two years later the U.S. has some 6,000 troops on the ground, including artillery units and aircraft based inside Iraq and Syria. The limited airstrikes have expanded to a 24 month broad-based bombing campaign, which has spread into Syria, with the sideshows of complete collapse of democracy in Turkey, a Russian military presence in Syria, and an Iranian military presence in Iraq. For the record, the Yazidis are pretty much fine, as are ISIS and Syrian president Assad. The Yazadis do occasionally show up in fear-mongering, unsourced stories about ISIS sex slaves, usually spoon-fed to American media, and only American media, by pro-Yazidi ethnic groups safely in the west.
In fact, other than a massive regional death toll and no progress toward whatever the actual goal for the United States is (um, whatever, “destroy” ISIS), things are pretty much the same after two years, +chaos. And whomever is elected this November will be the fifth U.S. president to make war in Iraq.
Back to CNN.
As the Yazidi situation was unfolding, I was invited to tape a discussion there alongside the usual retired U.S. military colonel. I was asked a single question, explained in my answer that the U.S. was in fact using the Yazidi “humanitarian crisis/faux genocide” as an excuse to re-enter the Iraq quagmire, and equated it to George W. Bush’s flim-flam about weapons of mass destruction in 2003.
The host literally said I was wrong. I was not asked another question, though the colonel was given several minutes to explain the urgency of the situation, demand America act where no one else would, and assure the public that Obama planned only limited, surgical strikes and that was it, one and done.
My question was edited out, the colonel’s lengthy answer was played on air, and my very brief moment in the glow of CNN was ended even though I wore a nice suit and a tie. Oh well, we still have each other here, and hey, CNN, my number’s still the same if you wanna call.
So it’s settled, according to The New York Times: Israel was not at fault in a strike that killed 10 civilians near a United Nations school in the 2014 assault on Gaza, nor was it guilty of breaking the law in other instances that left innocent victims dead during that conflict.
This, at least, is what the Israeli military claims, and in a one-sided story in the Times this week, Isabel Kershner takes the Israeli military findings at face value, never questioning its conclusions or seeking commentary from outside sources.
She opens her piece with a summary of the military’s own account of the strike on the school, recounting it as established fact without attribution. Kershner goes on to say that the army also declared itself innocent of deliberately causing civilian deaths in two other attacks during the 51-day offensive: a strike on the Bureij refugee camp and the death of 12 members of one family in Rafah. The three cases were among seven closed without charges this week.
The school was hit, according to the army account, because militants targeted by an air-to-ground missile happened to pass by the site too late for the Israeli army to correct its aim; the Bureij bombing was “justified and legal” because the building hit was being used by Hamas as a control center; and the Rafah deaths were caused by “errant mortar fire” from Gaza militants.
Her story makes no mention of other instances that raised international outrage, such as the mortar attack that killed four boys playing soccer on a beach, the massacre in the Shujaiya neighborhood of Gaza City and the excessive and deadly bombardment of eastern Rafah after Palestinians captured an Israeli soldier.
The article likewise fails to include any comments by outsiders on the military decision to close seven cases. Kershner did not seek responses from Gaza residents or from human rights groups that have also investigated and documented the Israeli attacks.
Other media outlets, however, included these outside perspectives: The Guardian, for instance, sought reactions from Gaza residents affected by the strikes, and the International Business Times quoted extensively from an Amnesty International staff person.
But the Times finds no reason to look for sources beyond the Israeli military, which happens to be the entity under investigation. At the same time, it shows little concern for what the people of Gaza experience.
This week’s story, for example, concludes with two paragraphs about Israeli air and tank strikes on the beleaguered strip this week. A total of 50 bombardments hit the enclave after militants fired a single rocket toward the town of Sderot.
Kershner’s story tells us only what “Israeli analysts” have to say about the strikes. The targeted sites were “empty,” she reports, and “no deaths were reported.” Other news sources, however, state that four people were injured.
The Times insists that it provides full and fair accounts, that it is neutral and balanced, but its editors and reporters fail to follow even minimal journalistic standards in reporting on Israel. Those accused of war crimes are allowed to speak for themselves without the annoyance of outside observers to challenge any aspect of their claims. Those who bear the brunt of these alleged crimes have no voice at all.
Follow @TimesWarp on Twitter
In the past 15 years, the U.S. military machine has attacked 17 countries. The many peace and justice organizations and individuals attacked in Terry Burke’s In These Times article [article date August 15, 2016] have a long history of opposition to ALL U.S. wars, interventions, invasions, drone attacks, military coups, blockades, and sanctions on numerous countries around the world.
The military aggression of the United States, the expansion of NATO, the efforts at encirclement of Russia and China with weapons shields, CIA destabilizations in Latin America and the massively destructive U.S. wars in Central Asia, West Asia, Middle East and North Africa, along with the massive arms deals with U.S. allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia, have created terrible destruction and millions of deaths and refugees. UNAC, a peace and justice coalition with organizations and individuals from different perspectives, seeks to counter the corporate media propaganda and politicians’ justifications for each of these wars and for expanding U.S. militarism.
These wars collectively, and each of them individually, are for U.S. economic and geopolitical domination. None of these wars have resulted in increased security or stability for the countries targeted or for the people of the U.S.
It is from this perspective that we oppose the U.S. war in Syria. We oppose the U.S. bombing that has ruined so much of the vital infrastructure, and we oppose the U.S.-coordinated arming and financing of numerous armed groups and the devastating sanctions that the U.S. has imposed on the people of Syria.
Terry Burke cites her past work in the Nicaragua Solidarity Committee as the basis of her position on Syria. However, this distorted reasoning would have led Terry and the antiwar movement to support the U.S. backed Contra forces in Nicaragua as “democratic and progressive forces”. The U.S. role in Central America was to covertly arm contra forces to impose regime change in Nicaragua while funding and arming Salvadoran and Guatemalan death squads. This destructive policy created millions of refugees from Central America in the 1980s, just as U.S. policies of regime change in the past 12 years of war in Iraq, Libya, Syria and elsewhere has created even more refugees.
The U.S. is coordinating Saudi, Israeli, Qatar, Turkish and EU efforts of bombing and of arming opposition groups. The stated goal from the beginning has been regime change in Syria. Regime change, as in Iraq and Libya, means the complete destruction of every secular state institution, including the very structures that provided full access to free education, free health care, electrification, potable water, modern infrastructure, irrigation and communication.
Years of U.S. sanctions against Iraq, Iran, Syria and Libya did not succeed in carrying out regime change, although they created great hardships and dislocations in each economy. Up to 1.5 million people died due to U.S. sanctions in Iraq alone.
Today, as we watch two candidates running for president who threaten increased and terrible interventions in Syria, we are seeing a big increase in U.S. propaganda. Take, for example, the August 11, 2016 article by Fair and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) on the breakdown of the [February 2016] ceasefire. FAIR, a media watchdog group, exposed the fact that it was groups supported by the U.S. fighting alongside the al Nusra Front – the al Qaida group in Syria – that actually broke the ceasefire, yet the media blamed the Syrian government and the Russians for the breakdown. Much of what we see in the U.S. media related to the situation in Syria is the same kind of propaganda with the goal of building greater support for war.
Terry Burke claims we are “U.S.-centric” for opposing our government’s attacks on Syria and attempts at regime change in that country. She claims that we have “ignored anti-Assad progressive Syrian voices.” But who has ignored what? Where in the U.S. corporate media are the voices of Syrians (both pro and anti-Assad) who want an end to the ISIS/Al-Qaida/U.S./NATO intervention in their country and have rallied to the side of their government to end it? The U.S. corporate media and some so-called progressives in the U.S. have focused on vilifying Assad rather than the U.S.-led war on Syria, which only leads to strengthening the forces who seek regime change and war. Should we add our voices to that chorus? Is that the best way to end U.S. intervention in Syria, which the overwhelming majority of Syrians oppose? We think not.
The March 13, 2016 UNAC protest, ‘A Day of Peace and Solidarity’ [Facebook], is the basis of Burke’s claims that “a dictator accused of monstrous war crimes is being given tacit support by major organizations in the peace movement.” Why? Because the “anti-war protest in New York City included people carrying the flag of the brutal Assad regime…”
It is true that Syrians came to that demonstration and carried the flag of their country. Do Syrians not have the right to carry their flag? Is it the place of the U.S. anti-war movement to tell people from any country that is under attack by the U.S. that they do not have the right to carry their country’s flag? That is not the role of our movement; we oppose our government’s illegal and immoral aggression against all countries and do not lecture the people of that country on whom they should support or not support.
If antiwar activists and organizations in the U.S. condemn U.S. bombings and aggression in Syria as our primary concern, rather than denouncing “Assad’s crimes”, we are branded “pro-Assad”. Burke attacks us for having signs like “U.S. Hands Off Syria” and “No U.S. War on Syria.” These she says are “U.S.-centric.” Were similar slogans used during the Vietnam War, Afghan War, and Iraq War also U.S.-centric? The U.S. is the most militarily aggressive country in the world. It has around 20 times the number of foreign military bases as all other countries in the world combined. We in the U.S. have an obligation to humanity to demand that our government stop the aggression and bring the troops home from Syria and all of the more than 130 countries where there are U.S. troops.
Burke accuses the antiwar movement of ignoring progressive Syrian voices but she is highly selective in identifying the “Syrian perspective” as those who are anti-Assad. We must ask her why she ignores the Syrian voices that seek to end the U.S./NATO/ISIS/Al-Qaida attacks on their country.
Burke believes that the primary feature of the Syrian conflict is fighting between two camps of Syrians. However, this is not the case. Syria has been invaded by extremists such as ISIS and al Nusra. Tens of thousands of mercenaries have poured into this small country to overthrow the government, a goal which the U.S. and NATO share. They have been supported by bombings, logistics and harsh sanctions against Syria from the U.S. and NATO. Though the U.S. has claimed it is there to attack the extremists, there had not been much damage to them until Russia entered the fighting– and then, in a matter of weeks, the tide turned. The oil that ISIS takes from Syria and uses to help fund their operations has been left untouched by the U.S and its allies until Russia started bombing their oil operations.
The antiwar movement can agree on non-intervention and self-determination. Aligning with those anti-Assad Syrians who support U.S. intervention in Syria can only divide and weaken our movement, which needs to be united today, perhaps more than ever.
We urge the antiwar movement to reject the ideas that Terry Burke presents in her article and demand that the U.S. and NATO stop the bombing, stop the sanctions, stop the flow of weapons and stop the funding. This will stop the extremist groups. Then the people of Syria can alone decide their fate.
 Organizations and people attacked by Terry Burke in her article in In These Times include United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC), U.S. Peace Council, Syrian American Forum, Veterans for Peace, Manhattan Green Party, WarIsACrime.org, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Syrian American Will Association, ANSWER Coalition, Anti-War Committee Chicago, Minnesota Anti-War Committee, Women Against Military Madness, Workers World Party, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Mint Press News, AntiWar.com, Consortium News, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity including members William Binney, Coleen Rowley and Ray McGovern; dedicated activists like David Swanson and Kathy Kelly, as well as journalists Seymour Hersh, Robert Fisk, Patrick Cockburn, Robert Kennedy Jr., Gareth Porter and Robert Parry.
The Administrative Committee of the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC):
Marilyn Levin – UNAC co-coordinator
Joe Lombardo – UNAC co-coordinator
Margaret Kimberley – Senior columnist, Black Agenda Report
Joe Iosbaker – Chicago Anti-war Committee
Sara Flounders – Co-director, International Action Center
Bernadette Ellorin – Chairperson, BAYAN, U.S.A
Judy Bello – Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars
Abayomi Azikiwe – Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice
Phil Wilayto – Editor, The Virginia Defender
Jeff Mackler – Northern California UNAC
If you want to add your name to this statement, please email UNACpeace@gmail.com with your name and the name of your organization. If it is an organizational endorsement of the statement, please note that in your email or simply click here:
Prediction: If Hillary Clinton wins, within a year of her inauguration, she will be under investigation by a special prosecutor on charges of political corruption, thereby continuing a family tradition.
For consider what the Associated Press reported this week:
The surest way for a person with private interests to get a meeting with Secretary of State Clinton, or a phone call returned by her, it seems, was to dump a bundle of cash into the Clinton Foundation.
Of 154 outsiders whom Clinton phoned or met with in her first two years at State, 85 had made contributions to the Clinton Foundation, and their contributions, taken together, totaled $156 million.
Conclusion: Access to Secretary of State Clinton could be bought, but it was not cheap. Forty of the 85 donors gave $100,000 or more. Twenty of those whom Clinton met with or phoned dumped in $1 million or more.
To get to the seventh floor of the Clinton State Department for a hearing for one’s plea, the cover charge was high.
Among those who got face time with Hillary Clinton were a Ukrainian oligarch and steel magnate who shipped oil pipe to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions and a Bangladeshi economist who was under investigation by his government and was eventually pressured to leave his own bank.
The stench is familiar, and all too Clintonian in character.
Recall. On his last day in office, Jan. 20, 2001, Bill Clinton issued a presidential pardon to financier-crook and fugitive from justice Marc Rich, whose wife, Denise, had contributed $450,000 to the Clinton Library.
The Clintons appear belatedly to have recognized their political peril.
Bill has promised that, if Hillary is elected, he will end his big dog days at the foundation and stop taking checks from foreign regimes and entities, and corporate donors. Cash contributions from wealthy Americans will still be gratefully accepted.
One wonders: Will Bill be writing thank-you notes for the millions that will roll in to the family foundation — on White House stationery?
By his actions, Bill is all but conceding that there is a serious conflict of interest between his foundation raking in millions that enhance the family’s prestige and sustain its travel and lifestyle, while providing its big donors with privileged access to the secretary of state.
Yet if Hillary Clinton becomes president, the scheme is unsustainable. Even the Obama-Clinton media might not be able to stomach this.
And even Clinton seems to be conceding the game is up. “I know there’s a lot of smoke, and there’s no fire,” she said in self-defense this week.
She is certainly right about the smoke.
And if, as Democratic apparatchik Steve McMahon assures us that there is “no smoking gun,” no quid-pro-quo, no open-and-shut case of Secretary Clinton taking official action in gratitude to a donor of the family foundation, how can we predict a special prosecutor?
Answer: We are not at the end of this scandal. We are at what Churchill called the “end of the beginning.”
Missing emails are being unearthed at State, through Freedom of Information Act requests, that are filling out the picture Clinton thought had been blotted out when her 33,000 “private” emails were erased by her lawyers.
Someone out there, Julian Assange, Russia, or the rogue websites doing all this hacking, are believed to have many more explosive emails they are preparing to drop before Election Day.
And why is Clinton keeping her State Department calendar secret from the AP, if it does not contain meetings or calls she does not want to defend? She has defied requests and the AP had to sue to get the schedule of her first two years at State.
Moreover, the AP story on the State Department-Clinton Foundation links was so stunning it is sure to trigger follow-up by investigative journalists who can smell a Pulitzer.
Then there are the contacts between Huma Abedin, her closest aide at State, and Doug Band at the Clinton Foundation, the go-betweens for the donor-Clinton meetings, which has opened a new avenue for investigators.
These were unearthed by Judicial Watch, which is not going away.
The number of persons of interest involved in this suppurating scandal, which has gone from an illicit server, to a panoply of Clinton lies to the public that disgusted the FBI director, to erased emails, to “pay for play,” and now deep into the Clinton Foundation continues to grow.
All that is needed now, to bring us to an independent counsel, is calls for the FBI to reopen and broaden its investigation in light of all that has been revealed since Director Comey said there was not evidence enough to recommend an indictment.
If Clinton controls the Justice Department, calls for a special prosecutor will be resisted, but only until public demand becomes too great.
For there were independent counsels called in Watergate, Iran-Contra and the scandals that led to the impeachment of Bill Clinton.
Hillary Clinton says there is no fire. But something is causing all that smoke.
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of the new book “The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.”
Copyright 2016 Creators.com.
Iran’s foreign minister has categorically denied the US claims that Tehran ships arms to Yemen, saying Washington itself knows better which international parties spread terrorism throughout the world.
Mohammad Javad Zarif was reacting to comments by US Secretary of State John Kerry who accused Tehran on Thursday of transferring “missiles and other sophisticated weapons” to “rebels” in Yemen.
“By such statements, the US administration has implicated itself in the Saudi regime’s war crimes and inhumane and infanticidal atrocities against the innocent and oppressed Yemeni people. It should undoubtedly accept responsibility and be answerable for all the inhuman crimes,” Zarif said.
Kerry made the accusations during a visit to Saudi Arabia, which has been waging a brutal military campaign against Yemen for more than year.
The top US diplomat was in Jeddah where UN special envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed as well as representatives from Britain and Saudi Arabia’s Persian Gulf allies in the war had gathered to discuss the conflict.
“Mr. Kerry knows well better than anyone that the Saudi government has, over the past year and a half, been invariably and sternly frustrating all the efforts taken to bring about ceasefire in Yemen,” Zarif said.
In his remarks, Kerry said “the threat potentially posed by the shipment of missiles and other sophisticated weapons into Yemen from Iran extends well beyond Yemen and is not a threat just to Saudi Arabia and… the region.”
“It is a threat to the United States and it cannot continue,” he added.
Zarif also dismissed Kerry’s claims of Iranian threat to the region and the US, saying the Islamic Republic’s “military might poses no threat to any country and simply serves defensive purposes.”
“What threatens the region and the world today is the ideological, financial and political bases of Takfiri terrorism in the world, whose source and causes Mr. Kerry should know well.”
The Saudi military has been pounding Yemen since March 2015 to undermine Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement and to restore power to the former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh.
Nearly 10,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in Riyadh’s military aggression which lacks any international mandate.
The US maintains strong military ties with Riyadh, which had Washington approve a USD-1.29-billion rearming program for the kingdom last November.
“Without a doubt, the US administration would further discredit its policies in the region through its support and ignorance and inattention to the facts on the ground,” said Zarif.
“It is high time the US administration learned from its glaring past mistakes in Syria and Iraq and open its eyes to realities,” he added.
On Thursday, the UN human rights office said the Saudi military is using cluster bombs against residential areas in Yemen in violation of international law, blaming the Riyadh regime for most of the civilian casualties in its impoverished southern neighbor.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) criticized the United States in May for selling cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia, saying the kingdom had used various types of US-made cluster munitions in its war against Yemen despite evidence of mounting civilian casualties.
The New York Police Department’s intelligence bureau routinely violated the famous Handschu Agreement, a set of 1985 guidelines that protect constitutional rights, for purely political reasons, according to a new inspector general report.
Inspector General Philip K. Eure of the NYPD released a report on Tuesday that found their intelligence bureau ignored the court-ordered guidelines for surveillance techniques on political activities, such as protests.
The report did not find any improper motivations but confirmed they ignored court-ordered protocol when investigating political activity. For example, Eure found that in 50 percent of relevant investigations, the NYPD continued investigation past the expiration of legal permission.
In addition, the report noted that the NYPD failed to properly document use of undercover agents and informers.
The 1985 Handschu Agreement is a strict set of guidelines that mandate how the NYPD must handle investigations of political, religious or ideological organizations. It resulted from a celebrated court case against the NYPD, filed way back in 1971 in the wake of the unsuccessful prosecution of members of the militant Black Panther movement. Prior to the Handschu agreement, the NYPD had a history of targeting political groups such as communists and the Black Panthers, going so far as to monitor members and infiltrate organizations to act as, “agents provocateurs to disrupt the activities of political organizations and to facilitate the arrests of organizational activists,” the New York Civil Liberties Union said.
Eure’s boss, Mark Peters, the city’s commissioner of investigation, announced: “This investigation demonstrates a failure by NYPD to follow rules governing the timing and authorizations of surveillance of political activity. While we found no evidence of improper motives, these rules are important to protect the rights of all New Yorkers and must be rigorously followed,” amNewYork reported.
The NYPD has scheduled a news conference to discuss the report’s findings.
Since September 2001, the Pentagon has listed $40 billion worth of contracts for small arms intended for Afghanistan and Iraq, supplying 1.45 million guns to both countries while only accounting for 3 percent of them, says a new report by a British NGO.
The London-based nonprofit Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) pored over 14 years’ worth of contracts issued by the US Department of Defense, documenting the purchases of small arms – defined as anything under 30mm in caliber – ammunition and attachments, such as sniper scopes or tripods. They found a massive amount of weapons supplied by the US to the primary theaters of the “War on Terror,” and remarkably little accounting of whose hands they ended up in.
“Our findings raise concerns about the DOD’s own transparency and accountability when it comes to issuing contracts,” Iain Overton, AOAV’s director of investigations, said when announcing the report’s publication Wednesday.
Not only has the Pentagon’s contract database listed only 3 percent of the approximately 1.45 million small arms sent to Iraq and Afghanistan over the years, “we also know the US government has acknowledged they don’t know where many of these weapons now are,” Overton added.
A team of AOAV researchers spent almost a year looking into every contract published by the Pentagon between September 11, 2001 and September 10, 2015, said the organization, whose mission is “research and advocacy in order to reduce the incidence and impact of global armed violence.”
What they found was just over $40 billion of solicitations for small arms, ammunition and attachments, with just under $20 billion actually paid out to contractors. Of the 412 published contracts, 137 – or 33 percent – contained errors and discrepancies.
Ten companies accounted for 65 percent of the total published contract values, the researchers found. The top five contractors were Alliant Techsystems – now split into OrbitalATK and Vista Outdoor – DRS Technologies, BAE Systems Inc., Knight’s Armament Co, and General Dynamics. The largest single contract was for the modernization of Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence, Missouri, worth up to $8.48 billion.
Some 949,582 small arms were sent to Iraq, and another 503,328 to Afghanistan, amounting to 1,452,910 assault and sniper rifles, pistols, machine guns and other unspecified firearms. Yet the Department of Defense contract publications listed only 19,602 of these weapons, just over 1 percent of the total. When AOAV pressed for verification, the DOD provided itemized lists for 719,474 weapons provided through June 2016.
The numbers “tell the story of two wars that did not go as pitched,” veteran military correspondent CJ Chivers wrote in the New York Times Magazine, commenting on AOAV’s findings.
The retired Marine and author of The Gun also filled in a piece of the puzzle the researchers missed by not counting the grenade launchers and anti-tank weapons provided by the Pentagon.
“The data offer no insight into a startlingly risky aspect of the Pentagon’s arming of local forces with infantry arms: the wide distribution of anti-armor weapons, including RPG-7s,” Chivers wrote.
After the first few weeks of each war, the only armor on either battlefield was either American or allied, “which made the Pentagon’s practice of providing anti-armor weapons to Afghan and Iraqi security forces puzzling,” Chivers wrote. “Why would they need anti-armor weapons when they had no armor to fight? All the while rockets were somehow mysteriously being fired at American convoys and patrols in each war.”